Staff

Names are listed alphabetically by last name.
Ashley Appiah
Human Resources Manager
EMAIL

Ashley brings more than 7 years of HR experience as a people leader ranging from non -profit, corporate restaurant, administration and recruiting.

Ashley holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management from Columbia Southern University and a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Health care Administration from Columbia Southern as well.

She is also certified as SHRM’s Professional in Human Resources (SHRM-CP). Ashley is an active member of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) both on the national and local level.

Amia' Butler
Development Manager

Amia’ brings over seven years of experience in fundraising, public relations, program coordination, event planning, facilitation, and volunteer management. Holding a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a master’s degree in Corporate Communications, she is a two-time Austin Peay State University graduate and served as the student life graduate research assistant. There she led a university-wide fundraising initiative for the YMCA After Breast Cancer program. In that role, she worked with over 300 donors and helped the YMCA surpass its fundraising goal by twenty percent. Additionally, she drafted fundraising appeals, held donor meetings, and played an instrumental part in developing the donor communications calendar.

No stranger to Legal Aid, she executed pro bono placement working with more than 300 hundred attorneys and organized continued learning events at Legal Aid of North Carolina as a pro bono coordinator. Most recently, Amia’ led internal and external communication strategies for a notable North Carolina scientific research company, where she was able to use storytelling to connect the community to critical scientific causes and build internal work culture. Additionally, Amia’ has coordinated community programs and organized events for vulnerable communities through a prominent Nashville non-profit organization, The Way, Truth and Enlightenment Institute.

Amia’ is a Nashville native passionate about the policy and mentorship for children affected by parental incarceration. Lastly, she is a trained dancer of over 15 years and teaches ballet and jazz dance to youth at a local dance studio. Amia’ enjoys discovering new coffee shops and considers herself an art enthusiast.

Anna Catlin
Director of Finance
(615) 780-7126
EMAIL

Anna Catlin joined the Legal Aid Society as an Accountant in June, 1996. She received her Bachelors degree in Accounting from Tennessee State University. Her interests include reading and spending time with family.

Derria Ford
Deputy Director of Community Engagement
(615) 780-7134
EMAIL

Derria L. Ford holds a Doctorate in Leadership and Professional Practice with a dissertation emphasis in transformational leadership, leader efficacy, and emotional intelligence. She is also a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where she earned a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Industrial Organizational Psychology and Business Communications. Over the past ten years, she has administrated a variety of grants which include federal, state, local, foundation, and private grants. She joined Legal Aid Society in 2013 as the Grants Administrator and assumed the role of Deputy Director of Community Engagement in July 2018.

David Kozlowski
Director of Advocacy
(931) 771-9164
EMAIL

David Kozlowski is a 1974 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He was a clinical instructor at the Vanderbilt Legal Clinic from 1975 to 1980, at which time he joined the Legal Aid Society. In 2001 he worked with the Tennessee Justice Center on several class action cases. In 2002 he became the Assistant General Counsel to the Legal Aid Society and is now the Director of Advocacy for the firm. He has been lead counsel on many significant state and federal court decisions in Tennessee involving prisoner and juvenile rights and is one of the leading appellate court advocates in Tennessee. He is the author of leading reference works on Tennessee unemployment security law and chapters on appeals from juvenile and general sessions courts in Tennessee Appellate Practice and Tennessee Law of Children. He is a frequent presenter at local, state and national training events. David received the Tennessee Bar Association’s award as the Public Service Attorney of the Year in 1998. In 2014 the Tennessee Supreme Court reappointed him to a third three year term on its Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure, that term expiring on December 31, 2017. He was a hearing officer for the Board of Professional Responsibility from 2002 through 2008 and was reappointed to another three year term by the Supreme Court in 2016. He and his colleague Rae Anne Smith, an attorney in the Tullahoma office, were asked by the Supreme Court in 2013 to co-chair a sub-committee of the Court Improvement Committee that was tasked with considering revisions to Tennessee’s Rules of Juvenile Procedure – a project that resulted in the adoption in 2016 of the completely rewritten Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Practice and Procedure in 2016.

Theresa Morrison
Communications Coordinator
EMAIL

Theresa Morrison graduated from Austin Peay State University with a B.S. in Communications in 2017, and is pursuing an M.A. in Media Management. She loves working with people and serving her community. "It is my passion to work in Communications with and focus in non-profit management" Theresa's expertise fall in line with public relations, social media management, and marketing. She has a drive for content creation, event planning, and any aspect of communications. Theresa is a huge comic book fan and her favorite comic book character is Rogue. Her other hobbies include Bee's and she is teaching herself how to beeline, which is searching for wild bees in nature.

Zac Oswald
Senior Deputy Director of Client Services

Zac Oswald is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and a 2013 cum laude graduate of University of Miami School of Law. While at law school, Zac also earned a Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries and acted as the Director of Business Affairs for Cat 5 Music Publishing. While awaiting his bar exam results, Zac worked as a grill cook at Chipotle and still cuts chicken faster than most Tennesseans.

Zac started at Legal Aid Society in 2014 as a Miami Legal Corps Fellow working in the Family Law Unit. Zac is the Senior Deputy Director of Client Services at Legal Aid Society, and practices housing and consumer law. He is the Lead Attorney for the firm’s Housing Practice Group. Zac received the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services’s New Advocate of the Year award in 2016 and the Housing and Equality Alliance of TN’s Fred Cloud & Tracey McCartney Award in 2022.

Adonis Patton
Grant Manager/ Writer
(615) 780-7108
EMAIL

Adonis joined Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands in October 2018. She was previously Associate Director of Program with Center of Hope serving clients victimized by domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. In addition to ensuring clients received the best possible services available to them, she was responsible for volunteer management, grant development, staff management as well as team development. After a successful career in the for-profit sector, she transitioned into the nonprofit sector and has served communities in this capacity for 15 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration. She is credentialed by the National Organization for Victim Advocacy as a comprehensive specialist within the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault and program management.

Liza Rodriguez
Executive Assistant

Liza brings more than 18 years of experience as an administrative support professional within the nonprofit sector. She began her career as administrative support to the Director of Social Work Services for the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services in New York City. Serving in this capacity propelled Liza into a service-focus career in community-based organizations. These organizations provided services to underserved communities, including mental health, affordable housing, homeless services, and community arts/theater education. Prior to joining LAS, she worked with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) as the Executive Assistant to the President/CEO, and oversaw Board Relations.

Liza was born and raised in New York City where she developed passion for media, music, and the performing arts. She is a life-long New York Giants fan; however, now that she calls Nashville home, she has adopted the Tennessee Titans as her home team! One of her passion hobbies is organizing a family friendly "Fantasy Football League" during the NFL season with her siblings, cousins, and nephews who live across multiple states.

Patricia Rulon
Director of Compliance & Reporting
(615) 780-7124
EMAIL

Patricia Rulon has been with Legal Aid since 1988. She is a member of Middle Tennessee Association of Legal Administrators, joining in 2014. She received certification in Secretarial Studies at the former Katharine Gibbs School and majored in Music Education at Nazareth College of Rochester in New York.

Jordan Stringer
Volunteer Lawyer Program Director/ Nashville Managing Attorney
EMAIL

Jordan Stringer is a litigator and project manager with deep roots in the public interest and pro bono spaces. Over the course of his career, Jordan has worked for non-profit organizations, international law firms, and industry-leading companies, while also serving on various boards, committees, and affinity groups serving the metro Atlanta region.

Most recently, Jordan served as Legal Counsel for Equifax Inc., where he managed Equifax’s nationwide docket of single-plaintiff lawsuits concerning the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). In that role, Jordan both supervised outside counsel and served as counsel of record.

In the pro bono and public interest spaces, Jordan has advised homeless individuals in civil administrative and judicial proceedings, litigated civil rights cases on behalf of marginalized individuals, and counseled indigent clients facing eviction. Jordan has also worked on habeas petitions for incarcerated individuals and was part of a legal team that secured the release of a wrongly convicted client who had served 17 years of a life sentence.

In sum, Jordan has approximately 15 years of experience driving successful outcomes in challenging circumstances for non-profits, corporations, and indigent clients. Jordan prides himself on being able to work collaboratively within large organizations to solve problems and provide clear advice to diverse constituencies. Jordan believes that accountability and hard work should not come at the expense of teamwork, empathy, and mutual respect.

Jordan and his partner, Kosha Tucker, recently moved to Nashville with their two dogs, Geno and Linus. Jordan is an avid music and sports fan who enjoys collecting records, watching movies, and camping in his spare time. Jordan and Kosha dream of one day hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Make sure to send Jordan an email at jstringer@las.org and welcome her to Legal Aid Society!

Paul Swiney
Deputy Director of Operations
(615) 780-7112
EMAIL

Paul Swiney joined Legal Aid Society as the Director of Technology in late 2015 and assumed the role of Deputy Director of Operations in July 2018. He is a native Tennessean and 1984 graduate of the University of Tennessee. He began his professional experience in Washington, DC working for a political consultant where his aptitude and interest in IT helped lay the foundation for a career in this field. Upon relocation to Nashville, he spent 25 years at the public accounting firm KPMG where he focused on IT support and worked for their Office of General Counsel managing eDiscovery projects related to investigations. Throughout his career, Paul has worked with numerous nonprofits as a consultant, volunteer and board member. These experiences prepared him for his current role at Legal Aid Society, where he is responsible for oversight and management of operations, technology, finance and human resources. Paul enjoys hiking and traveling with his wife, Tambi and, in 2014, completed the 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain with his son, Chaney.

DarKenya W. Waller
Executive Director
(615) 780-7118
EMAIL

DarKenya W. Waller joined the Legal Aid Society in 2008. She became the Managing Attorney of its Nashville office in 2010 and the Executive Director in 2018. Her legal practice is focused primarily on family law. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi - School of Law and earned a Master of Business Administration from Belhaven University. Mrs. Waller is a 2011 member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She was appointed to the Indigent Representation Taskforce by the Tennessee Supreme Court and is a fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Nashville Bar Association, the YWCA of Nashville, the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) where she is Board Chair. She has been recognized as a 2016 Woman of Influence and 2018 Best of the Bar by the Nashville Business Journal, as a 2016 Cable Athena Award Nominee and as the 2015 Advocate of the Year by the NCADV. Mrs. Waller has held leadership positions with the Lawyers Association for Women – Marion Griffith Chapter and the Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She has served on the Tennessee State Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and as Chair of the Family Law Task Force of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. She is a frequent speaker across the state on the topic of Domestic Violence training judges, clerks, commissioners and the public on the impact of domestic violence. She is most proud of her work initiating the Civil-Legal Advocate Program which provides free legal representation to victims of Domestic Violence on the Order of Protection dockets in Davidson County, TN.

Stephanie Henry
Immigration Attorney

Stephanie Henry joined Legal Aid Society May 2019 as an Immigration Attorney. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Howard University and her law degree from West Virginia University College of Law. After graduating from law school, she worked as an attorney in Washington DC before joining the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence in Nashville in winter 2007. She was at the Coalition as an immigration clinic staff attorney from 2007 to 2016, and as the managing attorney of the clinic from 2017- April 2019. While there, she provided consultation and representation to immigrant clients on VAWA self-petitions, U and T visas, asylum, 1-751 waivers, adjustment of status, special immigrant juvenile status, and consular processing. She has represented immigrant clients before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, Board of Immigration Appeals, Administrative Appeals office, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Nick Armes
Oak Ridge VOCA Family & Housing Attorney

Nick Armes joined LAS in April 2019 as our new VOCA-funded family law and housing attorney in the Oak Ridge office. Nick has worked in private practice for 6 years handling housing, family law and general litigation cases in many courts within our service area. He has also represented low income parents and children in court-appointed cases. He served as the City Attorney for the Town of Oliver Springs representing them in civil enforcement municipal matters from 2014 to 2019. Nick is a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity and has volunteered in numerous legal advice clinics and mock trial competitions as well as events for students at Roane State Community College. Since 2013 and continuing, Nick is an adjunct professor at Roane State Community College in Harriman, Tennessee, where he teaches courses in torts and personal injury and estates and trusts. He is active in the legal community in various leadership positions, including membership on Roane State Community College’s Paralegal Studies Advisory Board and as Secretary-Treasurer of the Anderson County Bar Association. Nick will participate in the housing and family law practice groups.

Madison Baldacci
Staff Attorney
EMAIL

My name is Madison Baldacci. I am a SNAP Advocate and Paralegal at the Legal Aid Society. I am located in the Nashville office, but I work with team members from every office in our service area to serve all of our SNAP clients! In 2017 I graduated from MTSU with a bachelors in Political Science. I interned with Catholic Charities and the Nashville Defenders before joining legal aid in 2020. Outside of work I enjoy reading and spending time my family and friends.

Tanner Beck
Staff Attorney
EMAIL

Tanner Beck joined Legal Aid Society in October 2020 as an Elder Law Attorney in the Columbia office. He is originally from Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, and he obtained both his Bachelor’s and Law degrees from the University of Tennessee. During law school, Tanner was a Student Attorney in the Domestic Violence Clinic at the University of Tennessee and both during and after law school, he was a legal assistant for private practice attorneys.
Immediately after obtaining his license to practice law, Tanner joined a private practice law firm where he represented clients in criminal and civil legal issues. Then later, he accepted a position at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. At Legal Aid of East Tennessee where he represented survivors of domestic violence in legal cases against their abusers, and he also assisted seniors with a wide range of legal issues.
After two years at Legal Aid of East Tennessee, he moved back home to Middle Tennessee and began working here at Legal Aid Society. Here, he aims to continue his goal of helping as many seniors as possible navigate their civil legal issues.
Tanner is an adamant believer in the power of organizations like Legal Aid Society to affect and change lives in authentic, meaningful, and fundamental ways, and he is honored to have an opportunity to be a part of that.

Linda Blackwelder
Attorney, Murfreesboro

Linda Blackwelder joined the Legal Aid Society in November 2017 after volunteering there for over a year. She is a graduate of the Nashville School of Law and a member of the Cooper’s Inn Honor Society. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Science and a Master of Science degree in Geology. Before joining the Legal Aid Society, she worked as an environmental consultant specializing in hazardous waste remediation. She practices family law and housing law in the Murfreesboro office. Linda is committed to the ideals of social justice and access to the courts for low income individuals. When she is not at work, she can usually be found at home caring for her dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, chickens, and her goldfish Francoise.

Ben Burdett
Staff Attorney, Oak Ridge
EMAIL

Ben Burdett joined Legal Aid Society's Oak Ridge office in 2019 as a tax attorney. He spends most of his time helping clients solve their IRS-related legal issues, and he also represents clients in the fields of consumer and employment law. Ben has given presentations on employment and tax law at the Equal Justice University conference and the IRS’s Annual LITC Grantee Conference. He is admitted to practice in the United States Tax Court and the United States District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee. Ben is always happy to talk to public-interest attorneys and non-profits about the federal tax issues of those they serve.

William Bush
Cookeville Attorney, Employment Practice Lead

William Bush is a graduate of Princeton University and Case Western Reserve University Law School, where he was an editor of the Law and Housing Journal and of the Law Review. He was a national board member of the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council and a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow with Southeast Tennessee Legal Services. He joined the Legal Aid Society in 1982. He is a 2008 recipient of the B. Riney Green Award for promoting inter-program cooperation and otherwise strengthening the provision of legal aid in Tennessee. He successfully litigated one of the nation’s first private enforcement actions under the Family and Medical Leave Act. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Tennessee Bar Association, Putnam County Bar Association, National Employment Lawyer’s Association, and Tennessee Employment Lawyer’s Association. He is the Liaison to the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service for the ABA’s Labor and Employment Law Section. He is an Editor in Chief of The Family and Medical Leave Act, a treatise jointly published by the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and Bloomberg BNA. He is a frequent presenter on employment law topics. He is past president of the Upper Cumberland Trial Lawyers Association and was a founder and co-chair of the board of Dismas House of the Upper Cumberlands in Cookeville. He enjoys tennis and a variety of outdoor activities.

Shelby Dodson
Gallatin Managing Attorney

Shelby Dodson is an attorney in the Gallatin office primarily practicing health and benefits, special education, employment, tax, and elder law. She joined Legal Aid in August 2018. Before joining Legal Aid, Shelby spent two years as an Equal Justice Works fellow hosted by the Tennessee Justice Center. Her fellowship focused on Elder Justice, a legal strategy for addressing and preventing abuse and neglect of older adults. Shelby graduated from Belmont University College of Law in 2016.

Brody Faler
Staff Attorney

Brody Faler is from Camas, WA, which is located in the Portland, OR metro area. He is the youngest of five children. Camas is a paper mill town, and Brody would have been a 4th generation millworker had he chosen that path. He was a teacher in Southwest Washington State from 2010 to 2015 and received his Master's in school counseling during that time. He earned a J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School and became a licensed attorney in Washington State in 2018. For the last three years, Brody has lived in Nashville, working as a school counselor and head wrestling coach at Ravenwood HS in Brentwood, TN.

He has coached wrestling since he was 20 and competed in high school and college. Brody is an avid sports fan (Go Trailblazers & Seahawks/Browns!), loves to be on water and enjoys learning about people and places. “I am excited to continue helping others in my role as an attorney with the Legal Aid Society in Tullahoma.” -Brody

Kevin Fowler
Clarksville Managing Attorney

Kevin Fowler is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a 1990 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law. Before joining the Legal Aid Society in 1993, he worked in private practice and with Memphis Area Legal Services. At MTSU he received the Norman L. Parks Award in Political Science and at UNC he received the American Jurisprudence Award for Torts. In 2010 the Tennessee Supreme Court appointed him to its Access to Justice Commission’s Committee on Pro Se Forms, on which he still serves. The Committee is making key recommendations to the Court on how self-represented litigants can use the judicial system more effectively.

Mary Gillum
Oak Ridge Attorney, Coordinator, Tennessee Taxpayer Project

Mary Michelle Gillum is the Director of the Legal Aid Society's Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, also known as the Tennessee Taxpayer Project. Ms. Gillum, in conjunction with the University of Tennessee College of Law Legal Clinic and the Legal Aid Society, founded the Tennessee Taxpayer Project in 2000. Since 2000, the Tennessee Taxpayer Project has represented over 5,000 clients before the IRS and procured financial benefits totaling over $40,000,000. Ms. Gillum obtained a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tennessee in 1994 where she majored in Accounting and Business Law. In 2000, she obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee College of Law. She is admitted to practice in the United States Tax Court, United States Bankruptcy Court and United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. She litigates cases each year in the United States Tax Court and United States Bankruptcy Court. Ms. Gillum was lead counsel in Marlow v. Commissioner, a published case that outlined actions the government must take in verifying requirements of applicable law and administrative procedure have been met in a due process hearing, and in Vinatieri v. Commissioner, a published case affirming IRC 6334(a)(1 )(D) prohibits levy when a taxpayer is facing economic hardship, even if noncompliant in filing returns. Ms. Gillum also served as counsel on Lantz v. Commissioner, a case that went up to the Circuit Court of Appeals, ultimately changing the time period to request equitable innocent spouse relief from two to ten years. Ms. Gillum began working with the Legal Aid Society in 2000 with a full fellowship from Equal Justice Works (EJW). In September 2014, EJW named Ms. Gillum to the Equal Justice Works Alumna Hall of Fame. In 2004, she received the 8. Riney Green Award from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, for outstanding efforts to promote collaboration among legal aid programs. She recently received the Tennessee Bar Association's 2018 Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award. Ms. Gillum is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association Faculty and provides continuing legal education seminars to attorneys throughout the state. The IRS regularly invites her to present training to examiners. She has also been invited to advise the Commissioner of the IRS on systemic issues related to low-income taxpayers. Ms. Gillum's current practices includes federal income tax controversies, bankruptcy and collection defense.

Dean Hinton
Gallatin Attorney

Dean Hinton joined the Gallatin office as a staff attorney in September, 2016. Dean graduated from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. Prior to joining Legal Aid Society, Dean was in private practice handling a vast array of legal issues for clients across Middle Tennessee in both local and federal courts. He has also served as a contract paralegal for the Unites States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee Financial Litigation Unit. Dean is a former investigative journalist, and of great significance, served in the United States Air Force.

Iska Hoole
Tullahoma Managing Attorney

Iska Hoole is a 1997 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. She did her undergraduate work at the University of the South in Sewanee, where she was a member of the Order of the Gown, the academic honors society. While in law school she was active in the Tennessee Association for Public Interest Law. She served as a summer intern with the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services and as a volunteer tax preparer. She worked as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society in the Tullahoma office from 1998 to 2003. She worked in private practice from 2006 to 2008 and from 2010 to 2013. She was a public school teacher in Winchester, Tennessee from 2008 to 2010. She is a Rule 31 Listed General Civil and Family Mediator.

Trina Hughes
Staff Attorney
EMAIL

Trina Hughes joined the Oak Ridge office of the Legal Aid Society in February 2020. Before joining the Legal Aid Society, Trina worked as an elder law attorney at the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency. Trina graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2015, and during her time at law school she participated in the Mediation Clinic and the Wills Clinic. Throughout law school, Trina volunteered with the Legal Aid Society. Trina is a graduate of Lipscomb University, where she studied philosophy and French.

Patricia Jones
Columbia Managing Attorney, Mortgage Foreclosure Practice Lead

Patricia Jones is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and a 2005 graduate of Washington and Lee University School of Law. While at law school, she served as Executive Editor of the Race Ethnicity Ancestry Law Journal and regularly volunteered with a local juvenile detention center, where she helped young men study for their high school equivalency exams. She began working as a staff attorney with Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Inc. in 2005, focusing on family and landlord tenant law. In 2007, she began to defend homeowners in foreclosure cases. While in Florida, she was active with the Ocala chapter of the D.R. Smith American Inn of Court and served on the executive board of the Marion County Homeless Council. She also ran a marathon on behalf of the American Heart Association, raising over $5,000 for the organization. In 2012, she left Florida and moved back home to east Tennessee. While in east Tennessee, she volunteered with Legal Aid of East Tennessee and acted as a guardian ad litem to children within the juvenile court system. She joined the Legal Aid Society in June 2014 as an attorney with the Columbia office. She is also a veteran of the United States Army, having enlisted in 1995. After serving in Germany and Texas, she was honorably discharged in 1999. In her spare time, she enjoys playing board games, reading, and traveling.

Allison Jones
Nashville Health & Benefits Attorney

Allison Jones is a staff attorney in the Nashville office, practicing in the areas of health, public benefits, and special education. She also directs Legal Aid Society’s medical-legal partnership with Shade Tree Clinic, a comprehensive, free medical clinic staffed by Vanderbilt medical and nursing students. Allison is a legal services veteran, having worked as a consumer law paralegal at LAF in Chicago, and then as a housing law clerk and social work practicum student at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri throughout graduate school. She also served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Laura Denvir Stith of the Supreme Court of Missouri, and for Senior Judge John T. Nixon of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Allison jointly received her law degree and Master of Social Work in 2013 from Washington University in St. Louis. Her undergraduate degree in History was earned at Brown University. She currently co-chairs the TALS Health and Benefits statewide task force.

David Kozlowski
Director of Advocacy
(931) 771-9164
EMAIL

David Kozlowski is a 1974 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He was a clinical instructor at the Vanderbilt Legal Clinic from 1975 to 1980, at which time he joined the Legal Aid Society. In 2001 he worked with the Tennessee Justice Center on several class action cases. In 2002 he became the Assistant General Counsel to the Legal Aid Society and is now the Director of Advocacy for the firm. He has been lead counsel on many significant state and federal court decisions in Tennessee involving prisoner and juvenile rights and is one of the leading appellate court advocates in Tennessee. He is the author of leading reference works on Tennessee unemployment security law and chapters on appeals from juvenile and general sessions courts in Tennessee Appellate Practice and Tennessee Law of Children. He is a frequent presenter at local, state and national training events. David received the Tennessee Bar Association’s award as the Public Service Attorney of the Year in 1998. In 2014 the Tennessee Supreme Court reappointed him to a third three year term on its Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure, that term expiring on December 31, 2017. He was a hearing officer for the Board of Professional Responsibility from 2002 through 2008 and was reappointed to another three year term by the Supreme Court in 2016. He and his colleague Rae Anne Smith, an attorney in the Tullahoma office, were asked by the Supreme Court in 2013 to co-chair a sub-committee of the Court Improvement Committee that was tasked with considering revisions to Tennessee’s Rules of Juvenile Procedure – a project that resulted in the adoption in 2016 of the completely rewritten Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Practice and Procedure in 2016.

Kaity Krupp
Staff Attorney
EMAIL

Kaity joined the Legal Aid Society as a staff attorney in April 2022, practicing Family Law in our Nashville office. She is a graduate of the Belmont University College of Law. Before joining Legal Aid, Kaity served as a pro bono attorney with Workers’ Dignity/Dignidad Obrera and Paulen Solidarity Law to defend Nashville tenants from evictions. She also served as a Hearing Officer for the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development and as an associate attorney for the Law Offices of John Day.

Before law school, Kaity volunteered with Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition helping client’s complete citizenship and DACA applications. From 2012 to 2014, Kaity worked in finance and obtained her Series 6 and 63 licenses.

Kaity enjoys the outdoors. In 2013, Kaity completed the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain. In 2017, Kaity bike-packed from Vancouver, Canada to San Francisco, California, covering over 1,000 miles on her bicycle.

Ameilia Luna
Murfreesboro Managing Attorney, Family Law Practice Lead

Amelia Miller Luna is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a 2003 graduate of the University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She joined the Legal Aid Society upon graduation. While at law school, she worked with the Elder Law Clinic. She was also an editorial board member of the Tennessee Journal of Practice and Procedure and a member of the Moot Court Board, Phi Delta Phi and the Christian Legal Society. She was the District Seven Representative for the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. In 2015, she was inducted into the TBA fellows division. In 2014, she received the President’s Distinguished Service award and the Star of the Fourth Quarter Award from TBA YLD for her work on service projects during that year. She is a 2010 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She received the Nashville Business Journal's 2014 Rutherford County Impact Award. She is a member of the Rutherford County Noon Lions Club, participates in the Rutherford County Domestic Violence Advisory Board, and participates with the TN-0 program in Rutherford County. She is also treasurer for her high school alumni association and an active member of her church. Her interests are spending time with her family and spending time outside.

Karin Morris
Staff Attorney
EMAIL

Karin Morris began her legal career with the Legal Aid Society in August of 2021 in the Housing and Consumer Unit. Karin relocated to Nashville, Tennessee from Cincinnati, Ohio in 2014. She earned a Bachelor’s of Art in Political Science and Masters of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati. Before moving to Nashville, Karin worked as an Alcohol Licensing and Tax Specialist with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (formerly ATF) where she was responsible for the licensing and inspection of alcohol manufacturers and wholesaler and importers of alcohol products. After completing several semesters at Northern Kentucky (NKU) Salmon P. Chase School of Law she moved to Nashville to take a position with the United States Attorney’s Office as a Paralegal in the Organized Crime and Drug Unit. Karin received her Juris Doctorate in 2020 from Nashville School Of Law (NSL) and was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in January 2021. During law school, Karin participated in Constitutional Litigation Clinic at NKU and the Juvenile Court Clinic at NSL.

In her free time Karin love to tour wineries and breweries, live music, reading, shopping, and working in the community.

Rachel Moses
Cookeville Attorney

Rachel Moses is a 1999 graduate of Centre College and a 2002 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. In law school she was the founder and coordinator of the Family Justice Project and the Pet Project (which assisted victims of domestic violence by establishing a network of veterinarians and others who could keep pets) and was coordinator of the VITA taxpayer assistance program. She was a student attorney at the UT Legal Clinic and clerked for two summers and one semester with the Legal Aid Society’s Oak Ridge office. She is Past President of the Putnam County Bar Association. She is President of the Upper Cumberland Trial Lawyers Association. She served as a District Representative for the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division from 2004-2012, and coordinated the YLD’s local high school mock trial competition and the local Wills for Heroes pro bono project, which provides free wills to emergency first responders. In 2012, she was elected as Vice President of the TBA YLD and will serve as President in 2014-2016. She is a 2010 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She founded the Upper Cumberland Young Lawyers Association, which became an affiliate of the TBA’s YLD in 2010. She received the YLD’s Public Service Day Project of the Year Award in 2011 and 2012. In 2012 she received the State YLD President’s Award for “tireless dedication to the improvement of the legal profession and the TBA YLD.” She serves on the Pro Bono Advisory Committee of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. She is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association's Public Service Committee and is Chairperson of the YouTube Video Contest Subcommittee, which operates a civics-themed video contest for middle and high school students each year. She is a board member for the Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center. She is past President of the Cookeville Breakfast Rotary Club and served as an Assistant Governor for Rotary International District 6780. She is the Chairperson for Inbound Rotary Youth Exchange Program for international students who study in Tennessee High Schools across East and Middle Tennessee. She is also the past President of the Cookeville Evening Lions Club and is the lead screener for the KidSight Program in collaboration with the Vanderbilt Children's Eye Clinic, in which she screens the eyes for children between the ages of 1-6 years old in Putnam County schools and daycares. She coaches youth basketball and has served on the Board of Directors for Girls Incorporated of Oak Ridge and the Putnam County Youth Basketball League. She is a 2011 graduate of the Leadership Putnam Program.

Janet Mynatt
Oak Ridge Managing Attorney
EMAIL

Janet Mynatt is a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, where she served as Managing Editor of the Journal of Law and Politics. Before joining the Legal Aid Society in 2001 as an AmeriCorps attorney working with victims of domestic violence, she worked with Lane County Legal Aid and Sexual Assault Support Services in Eugene, Oregon and in private practice. She is a graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Class of 2009. She co-chairs the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services’ statewide employment law task force. She is past president of the Anderson County Bar Association and is from Oak Ridge.

Katie Ovalle
Staff Attorney
EMAIL

Katie Ovalle is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University Law School. After law school, she taught 1st grade with Metro Nashville Public Schools for five years. Katie passed the February 2021 Tennessee Bar Exam and started working for the Nashville office of LAS in June. She is a member of the Housing, Consumer, and Home Retention Practice Groups.

Patty Sellars
Staff Attorney
EMAIL

Patty Sellars joined Legal Aid Society August 2020 as a Staff Attorney practicing in the areas of health, public benefits, unemployment, and tax law. She obtained her undergraduate degree in 2011 from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in Secondary Education, English and her Juris Doctorate in 2020 from The Nashville School of Law. Before deciding to pursue her dream of becoming an attorney, Patty taught English to high school students in both Marshall and Maury county, Tennessee. During law school, Patty worked as a paralegal. Currently, Patty enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

Chay Sengkhounmany
Lead Immigration Attorney

Chay Sengkhounmany is the Lead Immigration Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Middle TN and the Cumberlands. At Legal Aid Society, Chay directs the Survivors Immigration Legal (SIL) Project and provides immigration legal services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Before returning to Legal Aid Society in May 2019, she was in private practice out of Murfreesboro. Practicing law since 2003, Chay handles a variety of immigration matters but has extensive experience in humanitarian immigration relief, such as VAWA, T visas and U visas. Prior to going into private practice, Chay worked in the non-profit sector for ten years. She directed the Middle Tennessee Medical-Legal Partnership (MTMLP) at Legal Aid Society for about seven years. Through the MTMLP, Chay handled general civil legal matters for the patients of the medical clinics and provided training and education to the medical staff and students. Before joining Legal Aid Society in 2007, Chay worked as a staff attorney for the Immigrant Legal Clinic of the Tennessee Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence, where she represented immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking. Chay frequently presents and writes on immigration law, specifically issues related to victims of abuse or crime.

Chay is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and has presented at several regional and national AILA conferences. She is also a member of the American Bar Association, Tennessee Bar Association, State Bar of Georgia, Nashville Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, Middle Tennessee Lawyers' Association for Women, and the Lawyers' Association for Women, Marion Griffin Chapter. She is a 2009 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association's Leadership Law Program. She was honored by AILA as the 2014 First Quarter Pro Bono Hero for the Southeast Region. Chay earned her Bachelor's degree in Journalism, cum laude, in three years from Middle Tennessee State University and received her law degree in 2003 from Georgia State University College of Law. In 2010, Mercer University Press published her book on the history of the Lawyers Club of Atlanta. Chay is licensed to practice law in Tennessee and is an inactive member in good standing in Georgia.

Emma Sholl
Nashville Attorney

Emma Sholl was named Nashville Managing Attorney in August 2018. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Colgate University and 2014 graduate of Tulane University Law School. While in law school, she had an externship with the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she worked on a special education class action lawsuit. She was also a Juvenile Justice fellow at Children at Risk in Houston, TX, a New Orleans Children’s Advocacy Center intern, and an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps summer fellow at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. At Tulane, she was involved in the Disability and Health Law Society and served as a managing editor of the Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property. Her comment, “Exhibit Facebook: The Discoverability and Admissibility of Social Media Evidence” was published in 2013. She joined Legal Aid Society upon graduation. She works on health and benefits and special education cases. She is the leader of Legal Aid Society’s Health and Elder Law Program (HELP) and the co-chair of the Harris Gilbert Family Fellowship. She is also a member of the Nashville Council on Aging’s Leadership Council.

Theresa-Vay Smith
Oak Ridge Attorney

Theresa-Vay Smith is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law and the Tennessee College of Business MBA program. She joined the Legal Aid Society in 1997. While at law school, she was a member of a National Trial Team and Moot Court Board and active in the legal clinic. Upon graduation, she was a volunteer attorney with the Knoxville Legal Aid Society. She is past president of the board of directors of CASA of the Tennessee Heartland and past president of Community Mediation Services of Anderson County. She is chair of the Foster Care Review Board for Anderson County. She is a 2005 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law program for outstanding young lawyers. She was appointed as a member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Steering Committee for 2009 and 2010. She is on the editorial board of the Clearinghouse Review, a national publication of the Shriver Center on Law and Poverty. The ARC of Anderson County, a United Way agency, has honored Theresa-Vay Smith as one of its recipients of the Dove Award in 2011 and 2014. The annual award recognizes individuals in the community who have gone above and beyond in their assistance to children or adults with cognitive or developmental disabilities. In 2014 the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services gave her its B. Riney Green Award for her commitment to improving collaboration among public interest advocates in the state. She previously served on the board of directors of Chalet Ice Rinks, Inc., in Knoxville, where she also coached and taught competitive ice skating. She is from Loudon County.

Rae Anne Smith
Tullahoma Attorney

Rae Anne Smith is a 2008 graduate of the Nashville School of Law, where she received the Founder’s Award for being first in her class. She has a Bachelor in Social Work degree from Harding University and a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Tennessee. Before attending law school, she worked for ten years in the public child welfare system. She is a member of the Cooper’s Inn Honor Society and was a student member of the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court. While in law school she interned with the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ General Counsel’s Office; clerked with the Tennessee Office of the Attorney General; and worked full-time in the Legal Aid Society’s Nashville office through the end of 2008 as a law clerk and grant writer. She joined the Legal Aid Society’s Columbia office in 2009 and transferred to the Tullahoma office in 2012. She leads the Legal Aid Society’s Gilbert Family Fellowship which focuses on cases involving children and young adults. She is past Chair and past Executive Council member of the Juvenile and Children’s Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association. She is an appointed member and past President of the Tennessee Joint Task Force on Children’s Justice and Child Sexual Abuse and past Chair of that organization’s Court Improvement Committee. She is also a past member of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Court Improvement Program’s Law Committee, which focuses on laws and rules affecting children. She served as co-chair of the committee that revised the Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Practice and Procedure. She is a member of the Coffee County Foster Care Review Board. In 2011 she received the Hope House Outstanding Attorney Award for her work on behalf of victims of domestic violence.

Thomas Szaniawski
Attorney
EMAIL

Tom is Legal Aid’s new Nashville-based Reentry Attorney, providing post-incarceration counsel and advice for individuals reentering their communities. Although Tom joined Legal Aid only recently as a full-time staff attorney, his earlier work is well known to our office. Tom began volunteer work with us in the spring of 2020, becoming extremely active in our regular consultation-and-advice clinics, as well as our Volunteer Lawyers Program and our “Attorney for a Day” Program.

Tom has lived in Nashville since 2018, when he and his now-wife relocated from New York City. There, Tom attended St. John’s University School of Law, where he received not only his JD degree, but also an LLM (Master of Laws) degree in Bankruptcy Law. Upon passing the NY Bar Exam in 2010, Tom joined a boutique Manhattan firm specializing in commercial law, with a focus on business bankruptcy and chapter 11 reorganizations. In addition, Tom has published several noteworthy articles — one of which has been cited by several federal district courts, both in New York and beyond.

Notwithstanding his prior focus on commercial law, Legal Aid is not Tom’s first foray into public-interest work. During law school, Tom participated for over a year in an off-campus landlord-tenant externship. This no-cost program helped immigrants and other vulnerable groups of tenants assert their rights against landlord harassment, mistreatment, and neglect.

Tom now lives in Bellevue with his wife, McKenna, as well as their two Basset Hounds, Winston and Ethel.

Zachary Talbot
Clarksville VOCA Lead Attorney

Zach Talbot joined Legal Aid Society in May 2019. Prior to joining LAS, he was an associate attorney with a law firm in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he litigated criminal and civil cases at the trial and appellate levels. He graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law, magna cum laude, in 2014, and served as president of the Montgomery County Bar Association in 2018. Zach considers it a great honor to represent the clients of Legal Aid Society and is committed to the principle of equal representation under the law.

David Tarpley
Nashville Attorney

David Tarpley is a 1971 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He joined the Legal Aid Society in 1971 and became managing attorney of the Consumer Section in 1974. He holds the Herman O. Loewenstein Chair, named for the donor of a generous endowment to support consumer advocacy in Nashville. He has practiced extensively in the field of consumer law and is a frequent presenter at local, state and regional training. He served for 26 years on the Board of Directors of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Middle Tennessee. He has been an affiliate faculty member of the Vanderbilt University Law School since 1986, teaching a course on consumer credit protection. In 1997 he received the Tennessee Bar Association’s award for the Public Service Attorney of the Year. In 2003 the Nashville Business Journal identified him as one of the outstanding 100 lawyers in the Nashville bar. In 2010 he received the B. Riney Green award from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. In 2013, the Nashville Business Journal named him one of three finalists for the 2013 Best of Bar in consumer law. David is an avid amateur musician who plays French horn with the Trevecca Symphony Orchestra.

Rebecca Toca
Lead Family Law
EMAIL

Rebecca joined the Legal Aid Society in October of 2020, practicing Family Law in our Nashville office. Prior to moving to Tennessee and joining Legal Aid, Rebecca served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in Queens, New York for seven years. Rebecca served in the Domestic Violence Bureau, prosecuting violent crimes such as attempted murder, burglaries, felony assaults and felony criminal contempt cases.
Rebecca is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and a 2013 graduate of the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law. While in law school, she served as a student attorney for the Columbus Community Legal Services Families and the Law Clinic, as well as the Montgomery County State Attorney’s Office. She was also a Note and Comment Editor of the CommLaw Conspectus, and President of the Latin American Law Student Association. Prior to law school, Rebecca worked for the Federal Aviation Administration, in the Office of International Aviation and the Office of Aerospace Medicine.

Amber Vargas
Cookeville Attorney

Amber Vargas joined Legal Aid Society as a staff attorney in September 2018. Amber received her JD from University of Tennessee College of Law, where she participated in the Domestic Violence Clinic. Amber obtained a Bachelor in Psychology from Maryville College, where she participated in various organizations devoted to diversity and worked as an advocate at a local domestic violence shelter. Prior to graduating from law school, Amber interned with Legal Aid Society in the Cookeville office and Legal Aid of East Tennessee in Knoxville. Amber was honored as the Tennessee Bar Association’s Law Student Volunteer of the Year in 2019. Amber strives to assist victims of domestic violence escape abuse and gain independence. Her interests include fantasy and science-fiction novels and movies.

Marla Williams
Cookeville Managing Attorney

Marla K. Williams is the Managing Attorney for the Cookeville office of Legal Aid Society and is also the Lead Attorney for the Consumer Practice. She is a l988 graduate of the University of Louisville School of Law. She joined Legal Aid Society in 1988. She served as a District representative on the Board of the Tennessee Bar Association's Young Lawyer Division from 1995 to 2000. She coordinated the YLD’s high school mock trial competitions in her district. She has served on the advisory boards of the Tennessee Vocational Training Center and Consumer Credit Counseling. She serves on the boards of Putnam County Court Appointed Special Advocates and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. She is a graduate of Leadership Putnam and has been a member of its Board of Trustees since that time. Marla has taught law and paralegal studies at Volunteer State Community College. From 1997 to 2003 she served as a member of the Hearing Committee of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility. She is from Clay County.

Amy Allen
Cookeville Receptionist / Intake Specialist

Amy Allen, intake specialist in our Cookeville office, joined Legal Aid in 2004. She brings more than twenty years of experience as a legal assistant to our firm. Originally from Jackson, Tennessee, Amy has lived in Cookeville since 1996 when her husband was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy. Her hobbies include reading, boating, and spending time with her family. She is a graduate of Jackson Christian High School, and has attended Tennessee Technological University and Jackson State Community College.

Madison Baldacci
Staff Attorney
EMAIL

My name is Madison Baldacci. I am a SNAP Advocate and Paralegal at the Legal Aid Society. I am located in the Nashville office, but I work with team members from every office in our service area to serve all of our SNAP clients! In 2017 I graduated from MTSU with a bachelors in Political Science. I interned with Catholic Charities and the Nashville Defenders before joining legal aid in 2020. Outside of work I enjoy reading and spending time my family and friends.

Lupe Betanzos
Clarksville Bilingual Domestic Violence Advocate

Guadalupe “Lupe” Betanzos joined the Clarksville office in September, 2017 as a bilingual victim advocate, having served in the same role in the Nashville office since January 2015. Previously, she worked as a correctional officer in the Alaska Department of Corrections and the Robertson County Detention Facility, where she translated for non-English speaking detainees.

Tracey Brown
Clarksville Office Manager

Tracey Brown, Office Manager of the Clarksville office, has worked in the legal field for over 30 years. She joined Legal Aid Society in 2002. Tracey has been married since 1998 and has 5 children. She enjoys horseback riding and spending time with her family.

Kathy Burns
Oak Ridge Office Manager

Kathy Burns – Office Manager – I started working with Legal Services when I was hired as Administrative Assistant to the Director of Rural Legal Services in the Oak Ridge office in March of 1993. When Rural Legal Services merged with the Legal Aid Society I became the Office Manager in the Oak Ridge office. I have a Degree in Paralegal Studies. I grew up in a suburb outside of Washington, D.C. and moved to Tennessee to enjoy all of the outdoor activities Tennessee has to offer.

Karen Bush
Murfreesboro Receptionist / Intake Worker

Karen Bush has been with Legal Aid Society’s Murfreesboro Office since 1993 and is currently a legal assistant/secretary. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a minor in marketing from Middle Tennessee State University. She assists the office with performing intakes, preparing the distribution of community education materials, administering accounts payable for our office, drafting client communications and generally helping the attorneys and other office team members as needed. Karen is married and has two beautiful children. Karen has an affinity for pets as her family boasts 3 cats and 2 dogs.

Kelly Cannon
Paralegal
EMAIL

Kelly Cannon joined Legal Aid Society in September 2020 as the Nashville Office Manager/Receptionist. In September 2021, Kelly became the Health, Benefits, and Education paralegal. In this role, she assists clients in matters related to Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid, and other public assistance programs. Kelly graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2015, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a focus on legal studies and access to justice. Kelly cares deeply about equity, justice, and the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens. She hopes that through her work as a paralegal, she can advance the interests of those who may not otherwise have a voice. When she is not assisting clients and supporting the Nashville office, Kelly enjoys travel, hiking, and spending quiet nights with her pets.

Kendra Cheek
Volunteer Lawyers Program Project Coordinator

Kendra Cheek joined Legal Aid Society in August 2019. A graduate from Middle Tennessee State University, she holds a Bachelor’s in Social Work. Kendra has worked in social service agencies, providing services to families and youth in need. She has also contributed published research materials to the academia social work field, some including “School-to-Prison Pipeline Alternative Strategies” and “LGBTO Youth and Bullying.” In her spare time, Kendra volunteers with a local nonprofit to empower youth through dance and various forms of art. She also enjoys writing, cooking and making pottery.

Trent Craig
Volunteer Lawyers Program Administrative Assistant

Trent Craig joined Legal Aid Society Legal Aid Society as VLP Administrative Assistant. Trent is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where he received a B.S. in Political Science. He continued his studies and obtained a paralegal certification from Boston University. Trent spent 20 years in the private sector with a book publishing company before coming to Goodwill Industries as an office administrator. The previous four months of 2019, Trent served as a bankruptcy paralegal for The Law Office of James Flexer. Trent is not totally foreign to the work of LAS as he volunteered with the Mercy Clinic in Franklin and the 3rd Saturday Clinic in Murfreesboro for over 5 years combined.

Tina DeLacy
Clarksville Receptionist/ Secretary

Tina E. DeLacy has been employed at Legal Aid Society since late 2005. In 2003, she completed the paralegal program at Draughon’s and received an Associate’s Degree. Tina began working in the legal field in 1995, and has worked at various law firms as a legal word processor, legal secretary, paralegal, and receptionist. Legal Aid has been her favorite place to work because she truly enjoy helping people. When Tina is not working at Legal Aid Society greeting and assisting clients, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.

Heather Duggan
Cookeville Community Outreach Advocate/Paralegal

Heather Duggan joined Legal Aid Society in April 2017 as a Paralegal in the Cookeville office working primarily with the Mortgage Foreclosure Team. Heather earned an Associates Degree in Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies from Palm Beach State College, located in Lake Worth, FL. She has approximately 10 years experience as a paralegal assisting attorneys working in many areas of law. Heather moved to Tennessee from Florida in 2008 and resides with her family in White County.

Elizabeth "Beth" Dye
Legal Navigator
EMAIL

Elizabeth Dye earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Management & Human Relations from Trevecca Nazarene University. During her time as a student, she received an Outstanding Student Award. Elizabeth was honored to be chosen as a Special Speaker at her Commencement Ceremony at Trevecca Nazarene University.

Following graduation, she accepted a position with Haven of Hope, where she served as a Sexual Assault Advocate assisting victims of domestic violence with applying for Orders of Protection and providing court advocacy. Most recently, Elizabeth worked for Centerstone as a Case Manager aiding children and adults with behavioral health issues. Elizabeth resides in the Bell Buckle, Tennessee area with her two sons.

Brody Faler
Staff Attorney

Brody Faler is from Camas, WA, which is located in the Portland, OR metro area. He is the youngest of five children. Camas is a paper mill town, and Brody would have been a 4th generation millworker had he chosen that path. He was a teacher in Southwest Washington State from 2010 to 2015 and received his Master's in school counseling during that time. He earned a J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School and became a licensed attorney in Washington State in 2018. For the last three years, Brody has lived in Nashville, working as a school counselor and head wrestling coach at Ravenwood HS in Brentwood, TN.

He has coached wrestling since he was 20 and competed in high school and college. Brody is an avid sports fan (Go Trailblazers & Seahawks/Browns!), loves to be on water and enjoys learning about people and places. “I am excited to continue helping others in my role as an attorney with the Legal Aid Society in Tullahoma.” -Brody

Ana Garcia
Immigration Paralegal

Ana Garcia joined Legal Aid Society in May 2019 as the Immigration Paralegal. She spent the last 3 years working as a legal advocate in the immigration clinic of the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. She worked with immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. She is bilingual and has experience interpreting and translating for Spanish speaking clients.

Eleanor Geary
Legal Assistant

Eleanor is the Legal Assistant for the Legal Aid Society in the Columbia, TN. She was born and raised in Middle Tennessee and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2019. Before joining the Legal Aid Society, Eleanor interned and volunteered with numerous labor unions and previously worked as a legal assistant for a litigation firm in Nashville.

As a legal assistant, Eleanor aided attorneys representing government entities and children born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) against manufacturers and distributors of opioids. She is deeply committed to supporting attorneys and clients with whatever they need their pursuits of justice. In her free time, she enjoys spending time at church, reading, writing, and taking care of her beloved cats.

Solomon Hayes
Paralegal
EMAIL

Solomon Hayes joined Legal Aid in September 2020 as a Paralegal, primarily with the Housing Team. Solomon is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in English. During his undergraduate career, Solomon completed an Honors Thesis on mass incarceration, in which he used narratives to delineate the school-to-prison pipeline and the ubiquity of incarceration in societal spaces. He also participated in a teaching program where he visited schools in Metro Nashville to teach young middle schoolers about writing fundamentals and cultural understanding. When he is not assisting clients with intakes or attorneys with administrative work, Solomon spends enjoys reading literature, listening to music, and studying to position himself for the success that he aspires to achieve like his coworkers.

Jessica Jernigan
Tullahoma Paralegal

Jessica Jernigan, an advocate in our Tullahoma office, joined Legal Aid Society in 2002. She previously has worked as a licensed social service worker with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services and with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Active in the community, Jessica has volunteered with Your Community Connection (YCC) as a trained rape crisis and domestic violence worker and also has served on numerous non-profit boards including Families in Crisis, the Grundy County Health Council, and the Regional Health Council. Her interests include theatre, anything outdoors and gardening. Jessica holds a bachelor’s of science in social work from Weber State University.

Carol Lambert
Cookeville Secretary / Office Manager

Carol Lambert joined the Cookeville office in November 2017 as Secretary/Office Manager. Carol is an experienced legal secretary, having worked several years with a Chattanooga law firm and with two firms in the Upper Cumberland area. She earned an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Volunteer State Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Assistance Studies from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Marletta Lilly
Clarksville Secretary

Marletta Lilly has been with Legal Aid Society for 14 years. She graduated from Miller-Motte College with an Associate’s Degree as a Paralegal in 1995. In 2001 she became a Certified Legal Assistant/Paralegal through the National Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals. She has been a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals since 2001 and the Smoky Mountain Paralegal Association since 2005. She has served as Clarksville’s Office Work Place Coordinator for United Way for the past 7 years. Her free time is devoted to her family and church.

Nicole Lonza
Paralegal
EMAIL

Nicole has 10 years of customer service experience and is studying Paralegal Science at NSCC. She has volunteered with the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition and other local organizations. Her experience will help us tremendously as she will be conducting family law intakes, working closely with the Office of Family Safety, and supporting the Nashville Family Law Team.

Nicole Lonza
Legal Assistant
EMAIL

I am originally from Wisconsin, but I grew up in La Vergne, TN, and I have lived in Nashville for over 10 years now. I am a first-generation college student and currently pursuing my Paralegal Studies A.A.S at Nashville State. I plan to go for my B.A .after I complete my A.A.S. I have a vast background in customer service and administration. Recently, I worked with the merchants and payments at the Postmates/Uber office and as a freelance personal assistant position with the co-CEO of Black Sheep’s Society Enterprises. I also love to volunteer. I have experience with Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition, Elmahaba Center, Second Harvest, Hands-on Nashville, and a few others.

Gail Martin
Paralegal
EMAIL

Gail joined the Columbia Office of Legal Aid in January, 2019. Currently working as a Paralegal, she has several years of experience in the legal field; primarily dealing with criminal law. Along with working as a Legal Assistant for the Public Defender’s Office, she was a Misdemeanor Probation Officer for 10 years. Later she worked for a private attorney as his Criminal Legal Assistant. She enjoys her position of Paralegal, in which she speaks with and completes intakes for potential clients, and assists the attorneys in the office. Gail enjoys seeing the successes that the attorneys in her office achieve for their clients

Melba McNairy
Nashville Health & Benefits Intake Specialist

Melba McNairy is a 1963 high school graduate, from Maury County, but has lived in Davidson County for 50 years. She grew up on a farm and has driven a tractor. Prior to working at Legal Aid Society, Melba worked at the Meharry Community Mental Health Center, the State of Tennessee Department of Personnel, Division of Research, and in a doctor’s private practice office. She attended Tennessee State University for a brief period of time. She started working at Legal Aid Society in 1978 as a Legal Secretary and worked full time until 2010 when she transitioned to a part-time schedule. Melba currently works as an eligibility screener and intake specialist for the Nashville Health and Benefits Section interviewing clients by telephone.

Tabitha Molnar
Nashville Community Outreach Advocate / Housing Paralegal

Tabitha Molnar moved to the Nashville Area in 2016 and began working at Legal Aid Society in May of the same year as a Community Outreach Advocate/ Paralegal for the Mortgage and Foreclosure team. She mainly works in the Nashville office but also works on cases from the Gallatin, Clarksville and Columbia offices. She graduated from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky in 2014 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Tabitha developed a passion for working with the under-served and lower income population when she volunteered for the Center for Women and Families, a domestic violence shelter in Louisville. After college, she spent the summer working as a Boy’s Side counselor at a seven week sleepaway athletic camp in New York. When she returned, Tabitha began working at a personal injury firm in Louisville, Adams Legal Group. She enjoys kayaking, volleyball and cheering on the Kentucky Wildcats in basketball.

Stephanie Northington
Tennessee Senior Law Alliance Paralegal
EMAIL

Stephanie Northington joined the Legal Aid Society in November of 2019 as our new TSLA Paralegal. Stephanie interned for Legal Aid in 2006 assisting with Intake and Orders of Protection with Family Law.

She is a graduate of Tennessee State University. Stephanie has over 8 years’ experience working as an advocate. She’s worked with the nonprofit Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee as well as the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. She also worked with the Department of Health Care and Finance Administration, Bureau of Tenn Care. She recently completed the Rule 31 Mediation Training at Lipscomb University. Her hobbies include traveling, working out and spending time with family. She is a member of Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth and Friends of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

Dominick O'Neal
Oak Ridge Legal Secretary

Dominick joined Legal Aid Society in the Oak Ridge office in August 2019.

Peggy Pellett
Consumer Paralegal

Peggy Pellett joined Legal Aid in 2017 as an administrative assistant for the Volunteer Lawyers Program in the Nashville Office. In 2019 she transitioned to the consumer/housing department where she is currently the consumer paralegal. Previously, Peggy spent 15 years as a registrar at the Nashville Zoo.

She earned a bachelor of science from the University of Colorado and has a degree in communications technology from the Colorado Institute of Art.

Angela Ridings
Tullahoma Office Manager

Angela Ridings is a graduate of Alcoa High School. Angela began working in the Tullahoma office as a temporary receptionist in 2004; became a full time employee in 2005; and became the office manager in 2011. Prior to coming to work for Legal Aid Society, she worked 7 years in a private law office in North Carolina. During Angela’s husband military service they were stationed in Germany where Angela volunteered at the Army Community Service (ACS) on the military base. She helped military families prepare for a move overseas and connected them with resources when they arrived. This is where Angela’s love of helping people began.

Tomi Robb
Equal Justice Work Fellow

Tomi Robb is a 2021 advocacy graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Law. She worked at the Knox County Public Defender's Office throughout law school. Tomi moved to middle Tennessee to join Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services as an Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow to work with the THDA Rental Relief Program. Tomi is a Gallatin native and is also working in the Gallatin office for Legal Aid of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands with the Housing Practice Group. Tomi is a 2022 Governor Appointee to the University of Tennessee Knoxville Advisory Board. She also sits on the boards for KnoxCAM Prison Ministries and WordPlayers Theater Company. She enjoys making music and gardening.

Krista Scruggs
Gallatin Secretary / Intake Worker

Krista Scruggs is a Gallatin native and attended Gallatin High School. In 2006 she decided to better herself so she could provide a better life for her 3 children. She graduated from the Sumner County Adult Education program in 2006 which she now sits on the Board. She graduated from Volunteer State Community College in 2008 with an Associate of Applied Science Degree specializing in Paralegal Studies. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2011 with a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. She came to Legal Aid Society in 2007. She is also over the Contract Attorney Program (CAP) in the Gallatin Office and clinics for the Gallatin office. Krista provides case management assistance to the two Family Law and Health and Benefits lawyers. Krista performs paralegal duties to support the activities of the staff attorneys, including drafting and typing legal documents, conducting intake, researching, compiling and drafting discovery, making telephone calls, transcribing dictation, data processing, case file maintenance, meeting with clients, and record keeping. Krista assists in educating and advocating for low-income people. Krista has been with Legal Aid Society since 2007.

Sandy Seiber
Oak Ridge Receptionist/ Intake Worker

Sandy Seiber joined our Legal Aid Office in Oak Ridge in 2017. She assists the office with performing intakes, preparing the distribution of community education materials, answering calls and generally helping the attorneys and other office team members as needed. Prior to working at Legal Aid, she worked as a Veterinarian Assistant. After 15 years of doing that, she decided to try something a little different. She worked 2 years at Morgan County Correctional Complex as a Jobs Clerk as well as a health coach at the fitness club, Curves. Sandy is married and has two beautiful children. When she is not assisting clients and supporting the Oak Ridge office, Sandy enjoys fishing, singing and ghost hunting.

Queidalys Simmons
Victims Advocate
EMAIL

Queidalys joined the Legal Aid Society as a bilingual Victims Advocate in the Columbia office in October 2021, after receiving her bachelor’s degree in social work from the Middle Tennessee State University in May 2021. This, however, was not her first experience with Legal Aid. She served as an intern from August 2020 to May 2021, primarily assisting the housing attorney. Before joining the Legal Aid Society team, she as the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) advocate with Center of Hope serving primarily Hispanic victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. As a bilingual advocate, she was able to demonstrate that language should not be a barrier to break the cycle of violence and will continue to do the same here at Legal Aid.

Shannon Stroud-Ulibarri
Office Manager / Receptionist
EMAIL

Shannon began working at Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee as Office Manager / Receptionist in Nov. 2020 when She relocated from Colorado with her husband Ray.
Shannon worked as an Executive Coordinator for Invisible Disabilities, which is a nonprofit based out of Colorado. She organized and planned the yearly symposium, Gala and Disability week. She also managed social media platforms and monthly newsletter.

Shannon has volunteered for many organizations over the years, but one of her favorites were Make A Wish foundation.
At her most recent job in Colorado, while working with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, she assisted both victims of crimes and convicted persons who were reentering the community. She chose to show kindness and grace to all persons; victims, as well as offenders. Her ability to empathize with people in varied situations will allow her to provide caring and compassionate assistance to Legal Aid’s clients.
Shannon was also presented the Award of Excellence in August 2020 from the Sheriff for her excellent customer service and going above and beyond in the middle of a pandemic.

Shannon and her husband have 3 dogs and 3 cats that they adore. In their spare time they enjoy quality family time, traveling and exploring Tennessee.

Pat Sullivan
Tullahoma Receptionist

Pat Sullivan is a 1970 graduate of Tullahoma High School. She was a stay at home Mom for several years, but as her children grew Pat decided to enter the work force. Pat worked for Centerstone Mental Health Center in Tullahoma from 1996 to 2010. She was promoted to office manager in 1997 and continued in that role until her retirement in 2010. After 7 months of retirement Pat decided to return to work and accepted a position with Legal Aid Society in April, 2011. Pat enjoys greeting the clients, and helping them through the intake process. When Pat isn’t at work she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren.

Sonja Summers
Gallatin Secretary / Legal Assistant

Sonja Summers is a born and raised Middle Tennessean. She worked for Buffaloe and Associates from January 1994 to April 2015 as a paralegal. While working at Buffaloe and Associates, she had opportunities to work with attorneys and staff within Legal Aid Society. At Buffaloe, Sonja felt the need to work with defending and aiding consumers rather than representing the creditors. She came to Legal Aid in April of 2015 with over 20 years of legal experience. Since working for Legal Aid Society, she has been involved in community outreach and enjoys the opportunity of helping people in the Gallatin service area. Sonja provides legal assistance to the Gallatin Staff attorneys, the Housing/Consumer practice groups, meets with clients, conducts intakes, assists in office management, completes dictations and filings. Sonja has two daughters, Meagan and Sara, and one grandchild.

Paula Trujillo
Oak Ridge Bilingual Outreach Worker

Paula Murphy Trujillo is an Outreach Community Paralegal of the Tennessee Taxpayer Project. She has a bachelor degree in Political Science and a Masters in J.D. from La Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, Peru. She is a licensed attorney in Peru. In 1998, she began with Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands as a volunteer helping Spanish speaking clients while attending the University of Tennessee College of Law. She is a member of The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Latino Taskforce, board member of Community Economic Development Network of East Tennessee (CEDNET) and former board member of Centro Hispano of East Tennessee.

Rebecca Walker
Nashville Office Manager and Receptionist

Rebecca Walker, also known as Becky, is from the gulf coast of Mississippi but has lived in Tennessee for twenty-one years. She and her husband Chris enjoy hockey, family game nights, days on the family farm, kayaking, and just hanging out with friends.

Becky has a background in tax credit and income-based property management. During her time in Property Management, Becky primarily enjoyed connecting others with resources to better their lives.

According to Becky, “Working at the Legal Aid Society will allow me to continue my life’s mission of helping others. I look forward to gaining knowledge in a new field and continuing to utilize my current skill set.”- Becky Walker

Katie Williams
Paralegal
EMAIL

Kathleen (Katie) Williams came to Tennessee as a transplant from New York. She holds a BA from New York University and attended the NYU School of Law. In New York her focus was on criminal justice reform especially as it pertains to juveniles charged as adults. She has presented at conferences and joined panels to present and discuss juvenile justice. Katie has a strong interest in the issues that present to the previously incarcerated as they adapt to living “outside the walls”. She places affordable, habitable housing as the number one need for those individuals. Since moving to Tennessee, Katie has worked as a paralegal doing support work for law firms who focus on Wills and Estates, Probate and Property matters. She is a member of the National Juvenile Defenders, the ACLU and Amnesty International.